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Recruitment | 5 Min Read

How FIFA World Cup 2018 Teaches Us To Build The Perfect Team

Do you happen to be a proud Ronaldo fan or an equally boastful Messi devotee? Well, do not judge us for asking the question right away, since pretty much the entire world seems divided between the two. Do not get us wrong; both Messi and Ronaldo might be the best football players out there today. However, what people often overlook is that the ‘team’ is larger than them. The outcome of a football match never depends on either the performance or the skills of a single player. Instead, it is the collective scheme of things where each player performs specific tasks that suit their skill set.

Still, don’t get us? Well then perhaps let us look at it this way. If Portugal has Christiano Ronaldo, Argentina has Lionel Messi, and Brazil has Neymar, who does Croatia have? If a single player made any difference why none of the three teams even manage to reach the Semifinals? It’s because unlike Croatia, they did not have the ‘perfect’ team. This might perhaps be the reason why no one expected the Croatian side to reach so far. Everyone was looking for a Croatian Ronaldo or Messi, while the team was already steering its way into the finals undefeated.

Why Is It Important To Have The Perfect Team?

Let us first observe the central idea of a football match. The primary purpose is to score a goal while also preventing the opposing team from scoring at the same time. Now imagine if every player on the field had to be responsible for each of those things. The players would eventually start acting on their intuitions and observations, thus leaving no use of strategy in the game. Since, every player has a single agenda- winning, they benefit from sharing their responsibilities. This eventually helps them to know their area of function and the critical role they are expected to play.

For instance, a player like Dejan Lovren is assigned the role of a defender. He is responsible for preventing the other team from scoring the goal. The Croatian team requires him to play behind the midfielders and stay in their half of the field. Imagine him attempting to score a goal like the attackers while leaving his post unprotected. This could be the perfect opportunity for the opposing team to use it to their advantage. Even if he fails to stop the opponents, he stays at his assigned position and lets the centre backs and the sweepers do their jobs.

Role Of The Manager

And yet, if the perfect team was all it took to bring home a world cup, then why do we give so much importance to the managers? After all, what significance could a person have when he never even steps into the field himself?

Let’s put it this way – the managers are the brain behind all the strategies that the team implements in the game. Almost everything that you see transpiring on the field is the manager’s plan slowly unfolding. Their essential duty starts right from selecting the players for a game. Each time the team faces a new opponent, the managers come up with a new strategy for the team. While planning the attack, the managers also need to choose the ‘right’ defenders for the match, keeping in mind the skills of the opposing attackers.

Much like an HR of the company, they also keep an eye out for young talent who can represent the team in the future. Their recruitment, along with their training and assessment is all a massive part of their job.

In fact, there is more in common between a company and a professional football team. Here too, the managers look out for the best candidates for the position. However, the real challenge is to provide them with roles that are in line with their personalities while also justifying their skill set. Like professional football coaches, the managers at these firms too deploy technology to help them make well-informed decisions. Modern analytical tools guide them by providing all the relevant information like the team member’s age, skills, experience, and success/ efficiency rate. With all the relevant data at hand, the managers are able to fill in the positions with the candidates that are a ‘perfect fit’ for them.

But How Does The Manager Assess The Players And Assign Them The Right Roles?

Now that we have finally established that the manager’s Assessment is vital in the final outcome let us discuss how do they do it. The first and foremost part of the manager’s duty is to choose the best team. What that essentially means is that the managers choose the best eleven players from the team’s pool that collectively promise better performance.

Then comes the game strategy! The managers are required to plan how the players will approach the game. Several factors might come into play in the game midway, and the players might need to switch their strategies. All these permutations and combinations of instances are discussed at length with the players in advance.

But arguably, the best example of a manager’s assessment capabilities is the positioning of the players. The manager or the coach has to carefully examine the skills and the physical attributes of all the players before deciding on the positioning of each of them.

For instance, a tall yet fragile football player makes up for an excellent choice for a goalkeeper. However, that might not be as easy as it sounds. Since there are no other players behind him on the field, he is the last thing between the ball and the goalpost. This is why the goalkeeper needs to be extremely tough, or perhaps someone that can prevent the stress from affecting his performance.

On the other hand, a person who is good at grabbing the opportunity whenever possible can be a great striker. The managers assess their skills and examine if they have the required accuracy and speed for the job. In fact, there are opportunities on the field when the goal might need something more than efficient use of feet. This is why 2014 Dutch managers chose players like Robin Van Persie, who possessed perfect headshot capabilities.

After assessing all the players, the managers come up with an effective strategy which is influenced by the skills and physical of these players. They also keep on observing their players during the game and pass on the necessary information. If a player seems to be having a bad day and doesn’t quite seem to be confident about the role, the managers promptly change the team’s strategies accordingly.

Winning – The Final Result Of Perfect Assessment

All the players perform the designated tasks and collectively work for a single goal – winning. We all like to remember who scored the goal but not the player who dribbled the ball and passed it onto the striker. If the defenders fail to do their jobs, there will be no Ronaldo or Messi.

This is similar to what we see in a modern-day organization. Each person is given a specific task and is solely responsible for completing it. However, the task alone might seem insignificant but is part of the larger scheme of things.

This is why the role of a manager, be it in any sport or an organization cannot be underestimated. They are responsible for nurturing the strengths of each team member and putting them to good use when the need arises.

Former Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez said something that weighs in on the subject. He said that Christiano Ronaldo might be their most important player, but it is imperative for him to use his skills for the collective effort of the team. What that exactly means is that you could be the player that makes all the difference, but you only prove yourself useful if you play ‘for the team.’

Originally published July 13 2018, Updated June 16 2020

Ankur Tandon

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